Ridgewood a Haven for Two Local Filmmakers

Location’s Prominent Role In Ad Campaign

A new 30-second anti-DUI ad produced by Ridgewood residents Erinnisse Heuer and Patrick Rebisz will be shown to thousands of New Yorkers in a variety of media platforms.

Heuer and Rebisz directed and produced the Public Service Announcement (PSA) which can be seen in taxis, movies theaters and gas stations, on subway billboards and above station entrances. The piece is a component to a multiplatform media campaign launched by the city Department of Transportation (DOT) that cautions against the dangers of drink-driving.

According to the DOT, DUIrelated injuries increased 125 percent over the past three years.

In the ad, an intoxicated man is holding car keys, faced with the choice, “Where to: The 6 train or six feet under?” while between a subway station entrance and a hearse.

The filmmakers produced the ad under their Tupelo Productions label.

The ad was shot at Union Square during extreme winter weather and “posed some interesting challenges,” according to a press release.

Among these challenges were dealing with freezing weather and matching the optics of a print campaign launched by DOT Dec. 20, 2013.

In the print ad a hearse that opens on the left side is featured, but Heuer needed to find one that opened on the right.

Heuer says she searched all over the northeast for a matching hearse, only finding one outside Philadelphia from a man named coincidentally Pete Grave’s

“Modern hearses open on the left, but the one which would match the photo from the print campaign had to open on the right,” said Heuer. “In photography flipping the doors would be easy, with video we had to find a hearse that opened the right way.”

The main actor in the spot, Jonathan Castro is also a Ridgewood resident. He was born and raised in the neighborhood, something Heuer and Rebisz found intriguing enough to “joke about how our neighborhood should be called ‘Ridgewoodwood.'”

“Ridgewood has a large, thriving filmmaking community,” said Heuer. “Besides our lead actor, our assistant cameraman on this spot also lives in Ridgewood as does our colorist.”

“In the last two years there has been a shift in who you see as your neighbors,” Heuer said. She added there are more arriving and the neighborhood is being transformed by “artists, writer and painters.” She added there is “a lot of growth in that now. It’s wonderful to be here now and find them here”

When Heuer and Rebisz were casting for parts in the spot they posted ads in Ridgewood and got many responses from locals that wanted to be involved.

“It’s a thriving artistic community. Ridgewood seems to be the next big thing,” Rebisz said.

Rebisz, a native of Poland has visited many European cities with Heuer and both agree that because of American cultural attitudes about cars there is a much higher threshold for intoxicated driving in American as compared to their experiences overseas where this behavior is not tolerated.

Heuer related her experiences when visiting Poland and Ireland, where any night out with alcohol involved is planned around getting home safe by public transportation or with a sober driver.

“In Poland it was standard. The family would arrange for a sober driver. Heuer said. The same was true when we were in Ireland.”

Speaking to that cultural difference Rebisz said, “Part of it could be related to the fact that America is a driving culture. I think that is the biggest difference.

Though neither Rebisz nor Heuer have any personal, family experience with the destruction DUI can cause, both heard many stories during the casting process and while shooting from colleagues working on the project.

“I was really blown away by the stories that came about during the casting process. There was a number of stories by people involved in the shoot,” Heuer said.

As for the impact DUI has had in Ridgewood, as compared to neighborhoods that are better served by public transit and closer to bars and restaurants, Heuer said “there’s definitely more temptation to drive these places,” She added, “I think neighborhoods like Ridgewood can be significantly impacted.

She also knows that more people in Queens, and Ridgewood specifically rely on their cars than other places in the city. In this area, “cars are a household item.”

She also knows that coming home by public transit is not an appealing option after being out late and said, “maybe the MTA needs more 20-somethings working for them.”

Heuer honed her craft editing several television shows including “What Not To Wear, “Toy Hunter,” “Jersey Couture” and the documentary “Imagination Unleashed” which explores the creative processes of young artists.

Rebisz has shot nearly 200 productions. He recently finished a spot with actor/comedian and Long Beach native Billy Crystal focused on the rebuilding of that town after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. This spot has been nominated for an Emmy award.

Heuer and Rebisz divide their time between producing PSA’s and tackling salient social issues like in their upcoming feature length documentary project Spirit/Will/Loss” which tells the stories of disabled artists.

The documentary includes time spent with California-based blind photographer, Alice Wingwall and the real life inspiration for “Million Dollar Baby,” Katie Dallam.

The film will be finished in the next few months and will premiere this summer. It was shot by Rebisz and edited by Heuer.

They plan to shop the film for distribution and show it at film festivals around the country this summer,

It’s two years in the making and explores content the filmmakers are excited about featuring, “This is our baby,” Heuer said.